First things first...
A DISCLAIMER: Ok, Ok, I KNOW roaming with a Gnome is trite and unimaginative, however, it was my attempt to uphold a family holiday tradition. We're usually in Florida this time of year, enjoying the Gnome hunt and ice sculptures at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando with my sister, niece and nephew. This year we went to see John's panto instead, and it was a last minute decision to take the Gnome...So Sue Me!
Onwards and Upwards...
After our hearty breakfast we were off to catch the Bay Bus on St. Mary's Street, just around the corner from our hotel. Which, by the way, was the Marriott on Mill Lane. I HIGHLY recommend it. Fantastic location!...more on that later. Anyway...back to the bus...If I remember correctly, it was a real bargain, 1 pound 20 each way, I believe. A short 7 minutes and we were let off right in front of my The Millenium Centre. The driver pointed us in the direction of the WHO Exhibition just across the street, but I RAN (giddily, I might add) toward my Mecca...THE sculpture in front of THE stone.
It was cold, blustery and lightly raining, which was probably a good thing, as we had the Plas virtually to ourselves for quite a while. A plethora of pictures were taken...on THE stone...on THE railing where the Doctor learned Jack was The Face of Boe...in front of the tourist office entrance...of the restaurant where Jack, Rose, Nine and Mickey sat laughing and chatting in Boomtown...you know, all the iconic locations in Mermaid Quay.
We drank in all the luscious TORCHWOOD-yness in for quite a while and then headed across the street to Red Dragon Centre for the DOCTOR WHO Exhibition. A bit smaller than I expected, but well worth the 25 minutes or so that we spent there. My daughter got a real kick out of the Daleks, finding them much more menacing in person. My personal favorite display was Jack's coat...and one of the BLINK angels...and Ann Droid with Trinn-E...Oh, let's face it, it was fun seeing all those props up close. Just Go!
(Upon entering you're given a wrist band. Eighteen days later, Rach is STILL wearing hers, so I guess she enjoyed the experience.);-)
After WHO we crossed back to the Plas for one last round of pictures before catching the bus back to the hotel for a quick check of emails and MySpace. Then off for a lovely walk up Mill Lane/The Hayes/Working to Cardiff Castle. (Did I mention the Marriott is quite centrally located? It's in easy walking distance to everything in City Centre. The people at the concierge desk seem a bit inexperienced...but I digress...)
Shortly, Mill Lane becomes The Hayes, and once you've past shopping arcade after shopping arcade, the circle marks the end of vehicle traffic and the rest of the distance to the Castle is open only to foot, with an occasional service vehicle. That part of the walk takes you past St. David's Centre and the Queen's Arcade (think Jackie and a bunch of murderous mannekins,)...the market where the guy was vomiting red petals...Howell's Dept Store, where we first met Rose...MORE arcades...and then...
The Castle. From the outside, the clock tower reminded us a bit of Disney's Small World. Once inside we headed for the very informative guided tour (All actual history. No mention of Who or TW...ok, ok, I admit, I have a one track mind) before climbing the steps to the Keep...The Keep from EXIT WOUNDS. Perhaps I've missed what's been written about this location, but I just stood there wondering HOW they got all the lights and video equipment up that tiny, claustrophobic spiral staircase to the top. Bitterly windy and cold, but lovely views.
We took the obligatory pictures, then to the Welsh shop across the street to do a bit of Christmas buying for friends...t-shirts, phrase books, Welsh recipe books...the usual touristy stuff...then stopped at a little Italian Cafe across from the hotel, Gios, for a bit of dessert before heading back to our room for a thaw. (hmm...Perhaps they craned everything in?...including John and James?)
Nick, our lovely driver, had told us for a real Welsh meal we had to go to Gilbeys by the Bay, but sadly, they were fully booked for Saturday dinner, so we asked the concierge and he recommended, never having been there himself, The Armless Dragon. We went...we ate average food and gawd awful room temp Welsh ale...for a steeper than we should have price...we left.
A quick trip back to the Millenium Centre just to see it at night...
Back to the hotel for Rach to check in with her friends (the time difference was a bitch to get used to) and then we headed down, and around the corner to St. Mary's Street to catch whatever wild and crazy goings on...were, well, going on. As our luck would have it, wasn't anywhere near as interesting as the previous night. Busy, but decidedly not as crazy.
This time I had my camera, but Rach swore she'd disown me if I took it out. (Pathetic mom bows to daughter's wishes) She's only fifteen, and we tried to enter a pub, but they told us they couldn't even let her in after a certain hour. Ah well...I guess I should have checked the rules more carefully before telling her we could go clubbing. ;-)
More adventure tomorrow...and an encounter with... JOHN! ;-)